Female pattern baldness is commonly referred to as alopecia or androgenetic alopecia in women. Hair loss in women is different than that in men and generally features an overall thinning, rarely progressing to total baldness.Causes of female pattern baldness
In the natural cycle, hair grows, rests, falls out, and then new hair begins growing in its place. With hair loss, the new hair doesn't grow. Causes for female pattern baldness include aging, genetics and hormonal changes.
Hair loss can also occur in women for a number of other reasons including certain autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems and some skin conditions. Additionally, hair loss can be caused by breakage of the hair (due to twisting, pulling, styling methods and/or chemical treatments) as well medications such as chemotherapy and beta blockers. Women can also experience temporary hair loss during pregnancy, as well as after giving birth, or after a major illness. Additionally, some research indicates that deficiencies in iron, vitamin B or other vitamins may lead to hair loss. If your hair loss is itchy, painful, patchy or sudden, talk to a dermatologist or your primary care physician to explore medical or other reasons for your hair loss outside of natural female pattern baldness.
Symptoms of female pattern baldness
Unlike with male pattern baldness, in females the front hairline generally remains normal. Hair thins primarily on the top and crown of the head, starting with a widening in the center part.
Treatment of female pattern baldness
When visiting a doctor for diagnosis and treatment of your hair loss, he/she will take a complete medical history, examine the appearance and pattern of your hair loss, and attempt to rule out causes other than female pattern baldness. Blood tests, a skin biopsy and other tests may be administered.
Treatment of female pattern baldness may include wigs, hair replacement systems, hair extensions, laser therapy, hair transplants and other options. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a topical, over-the-counter treatment that can be effective in conserving hair and may even grow hair for some patients. Finasteride (Propecia) is an oral medication that helps hair loss in men, but unfortunately it's not for women. This hair loss medication is unsafe for women of childbearing age and it doesn't work for older women.
Psychological impact of female pattern baldness
The psychological effects of hair loss can be devastating for both men and women. Whether from age, chemotherapy, illness or a number of other causes, hair loss can cause anxiety, depression and stress. Work with your trichologist or dermatologist to find a viable hair loss solution as soon as possible. Seek help from a mental health professional if your emotional or psychological issues are anything more than minor and temporary.